HUNTSVILLE, Ala. -- The Multi-National Aviation Special Project Office is all Army, but it's not on Redstone Arsenal. It's in an office building off post. The job for MASPO is pretty straight forward. "We support the foreign allies of our country in gaining aircraft that are not in the Army inventory," said Col. John Vannoy, the Project Manager for MASPO.
The project office was created 10-years ago as part of the Program Executive Office for Aviation to essentially stand up Afghanistan's army air forces. That has been an ongoing effort and has provided multiple types of helicopters to our ally. Now the effort has spread to supporting aviation for other allies. "We support 16 types of aircraft right now in 28 different countries we're actively engaged with. That's with 170-people that are living here in Huntsville. 170-people in the office do that job," said Col. Vannoy.
The Colonel who's an Army aviator deployed many times over the years said his experience helps him lead the MASPO effort. Many of the aircraft provided to allied countries are familiar, like Kiowa Warriors, or Hueys or even Cobras. Some of the helicopters aren't familiar at all. "Most recently we provided 6 aircraft to the Kenyan Defense Forces," said Vannoy.
Those 6 aircraft are certainly outfitted for military purposes, but they don't look like aircraft seen in the U.S. Army. "Those Kenyan Defense forces are using those MP-530 aircraft that are armed commercial aircraft that are now armed to execute military operations against Al Shabab," said the Colonel.
The Al Shabab terror group has made multiple attacks on Kenyan soil, sometimes including bases that are also used by American forces. The bottom line, MASPO supports the aircraft for Kenya, and other countries, which accomplishes a couple of things. "That helicopter in an allies' hands in support of us, in support of their own needs, their requirement and their own interests. But that offsets the need to send one of our U.S. helicopters and a U.S. crew there. We can rely on them," said Col. Vannoy.
What MASPO does took off in Afghanistan with 95-aircraft. The office in Huntsville now has 400 aircraft flying for multiple allies around the world.
MASPO works with the U.S. Army Security Assistance Command. As Col. Vannoy said, USASAC makes the sale, and MASPO provides the product.